To the Reader by Cyril Tourneur

It may be (Reader) I may gall those men
Whose golden thoughts thinke no man dare them touch;
It may be too my fearelesse ayre-plume-pen
May rouse that sluggish watch whose tongues are such
As are controll’d by feare or gold too much:
Yet were Apelles here, he could not paint
Forth perfectly the world’s deformities.
For as the troubled mind whose sad complaint
Still tumbles forth half-breathed accenties,
Th’ Idea doth confuse and chaoize:
So will the Chaos of up-heaped sinne
Confound his braine that takes in hand to lay
A platforme plainly forth, of all that in
This Pluto-visag’d world hell doth bewray,
When death or hell doth worke it lives decay.
So perfect is our imperfectionesse
For imperfection is sinne’s perfectnesse.
Yet seeke I not to touch as he that seekes
The publike defamation of some one;
Nor have I spent my voide houres in three weekes
To shew that I am unto hatred prone;
For in particular I point at none:
Nay I am forced my lines to limit in
Within the pale of generalitie:
For should I seeke by unites to begin
To point at all that in their sinne do lie
And hunt for wickedness advisedly,
As well I then might go about to tell
The perfect number of the Ocean sands,
Or by Arithmetike goe downe to hell
And number them that lie in horror’s bands,
(Ne’re to be ransom’d from the diuell’s hands).
Who finds him touch’t may blame himself not me
And he will thanke me, doth himselfe know free.

From: Tourneur, Cyril and Collins, John Churton (ed), The Poems and Plays of Cyril Tourneur Edited with Critical Introduction and Notes by John Churton Collins in Two Volumes – Volume II, 1878, Chatto and Windus: London, pp. 175-176.

Date: 1600

By: Cyril Tourneur (1575-1626)

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